Southern Highlanders documents the traditions, folk song, work, and environment of the Appalachian mountain people living in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina. An educational video that illuminates all aspects of early Appalachian life, this film also contains great shots of the Smoky Mountains. The history of this poor but hard working people is shown here, with footage of women doing laundry and men farming the land. Some of the best moments come when mountain people are participating in traditional folk music, singing and dancing. Appalachian people created some of the best American folk music. Scenes of housework and farming are made even more interesting by the fact that every backdrop is the beautiful tableau of the Smoky Mountains, rich in color, but it's tinged by the sadness of poverty. Chock full of Appalachian mountain facts, Southern Highlanders is a part of Tennessee and North Carolina history.
Up in Smoke is a comedic skewering of the tobacco industry. “The Boss” is the head of the Humbar tobacco cigarette company who goes ballistic when his profits stop climbing or anyone is able to stop smoking. He sends his marketing team out to blitz the American public with dishonest messages about tobacco in order to encourage more people to take up the deadly habit, not providing honest facts about smoking. In particular, the marketers are told to get everyone to smoke: men, women, and children (this is a very early film to address teen smoking). The greedy executive's son, an athlete and an all-around good guy, comes to the office to see his dad and gets Shanghai’d by the marketing executives who want to make him a selling point. Dad sees the error of his ways and gets a newfound respect for the value of human lives and the harmful effects of smoking with a little help from his goody-two-shoes son. Up in Smoke was made by Brigham Young University to dramatize the evils of smoking, which it does, but unintentionally provides big laughs and entertainment with kooky dialogue and cartoonish characters. The history of cigarette smoking and side effects has never been as enjoyable as in this anti-smoking movie.
This is one of the more well-made industry films that touts big business as the key to American prosperity, freedom, and social development. In the most high-flown rhetoric possible, the narrator explains how the southern textile industry was creating enlightened industrial progress, "The race to compete has led -- as it inevitably must -- to better mills, better methods, better men, and eventually to a better way of life!" There is a montage of factory shots showing how various types of cloth are made, but the interesting part of this movie is afterwards when we see the mill town itself, replete with happy white workers and their families. We see the town surrounding the mill, "The production of this mill does not stop with cloth. Perhaps its most important product is this (we're shown a suburban street with houses), the comfortable American home. A place and an atmosphere a man can earn for his family and for his future." The picnic, the company tennis courts, and the comfortable working environment are all promoted as the “new way” of American industry, a way where the worker was valued and protected instead of abused and exploited. This is a superb vintage film that divulges the landscape of the textile industry in postwar America.
This RCA-produced film tells the short history of television from the perspective held in 1956, which was itself an early point in the TV’s history. After a detailed explanation of how TVs work and what the components look like, the film goes on to talk about how TV design is now moving toward reducing the size and cost of components and improving picture quality. We get to see many “TV firsts,” including footage of the first president on TV, President Roosevelt opening the NY World’s Fair, the King and Queen of England’s visit, and the 1940 Republican Convention in Philadelphia. David Sarnoff narrates the film and appears as an interviewer, asking Vladimir Zworykin about TV technology at RCA. The last third of the film is in color, and it talks about how color television works, then goes to a listing of NBC broadcast shows, including “Ding Dong School.” Given that this is such a collection of precious early television, this film is tough to top when it comes to exploring television history.
Listen closely to the narrator in this 1941 film, and you will learn a load of information about the invention of the television. A great informational video, Magic in the Air will teach you the basics of this cinematic novelty, from its basic functions to different techniques directors use to get the best shot. With the emergence of such a discovery, people all over the country were able to enjoy a football game from the comfort of their favorite armchair! Magic in the Air tells of the birth of television in a way everyone can understand.
Making of a Shooter is a great film that demonstrates how much attitudes about gun safety and culture have changed since the 1940s. Young Jimmy wants a gun, but has to learn the basics of how to hunt, shoot, and safely carry a gun before he can go out hunting. This film discusses basic safety tips like remembering to unload your gun when you break for lunch. Jimmy eventually kills a duck with his 22 rifle and is so thrilled he wants a bigger gun so that he can hunt big game. Several famous riflemen also appear briefly in the film, including Thurman Randle, Dick Shaughnessy, Ned Lilly and Fred Armstrong. The emphasis on safety in this film is offset by the freewheeling lack of parental supervision - making this an interesting piece of firearms history.
Television Tomorrow is a grand historical video that illuminates television broadcasting history and early television history. The film was made to inform the public about the growing television industry and possibility for returning World War 2 veterans finding television jobs as well. While examining the future of the television industry, the video talks about early television development and design, showing all the old equipment used in the NBC studios, including pictures of early televisions, and more. The glimpse of the history of NBC is particularly rare and interesting. The film also makes some prescient observations about the future of television. Television Tomorrow was made to describe the future of TV in America, but now it's an amazing relic that reveals the history of broadcasting in an accurate and fun way.
Today, suburbs are a ubiquitous part of the American landscape - but back in 1954 the idea of a middle class suburb was new and startling. This film advertises the merits of a suburban lifestyle by exploring and describing Doylestown, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There are many interesting scenes of landmarks, people going about their daily lives, businesses, and more. The overall themes of urban decay and the birth of suburbia are well represented and fleshed out.
The Challenge of Ideas is an amazing vintage film that features John Wayne, Edward R. Murrow, Helen Hayes, Frank McGee, and Lowell Thomas all making separate speeches defending the American way of life and capitalism or denouncing the Soviet Union. The journalist hero Murrow sits behind his desk, smoking, while images of the military roll by. John Wayne sits in a director’s chair, smoking and talking about how Americans appreciate “beauty” while images of female wrestlers, beauty queens, and women on the beach are shown. All of the narration is aimed at promoting the idea that God was on America's side and the Commies are a bunch of thugs who want to rule the country someday. The film captures various patriotic images throughout each speech, including footage of the Liberty Bell, folks square dancing, factory assembly lines, schools, and the Statue of Liberty. There are also many scenes from the Soviet Union, including Moscow, Joseph Stalin, Khrushchev, and tanks in Red Square. This is a superb 1960's film with unparalleled cultural icons.
This film takes an extensive and absorbing look at the history, growth, production, and distribution of California prunes. Starting with the immigration of Frenchman Louis Pellier, who brought the first cuttings of French prune trees to California, the film tells about how the prune industry was launched, using actors with narration instead of dialogue. Included in the film is an overview of growing and harvesting, processing, and packaging, with shots of Sunsweet workers wearing vintage uniforms while working in the plant. The prune growers then demonstrate how to turn the humble prune into many different dishes. Most interestingly prune cake and prune pie! A fun film that captures the history of prunes and California.